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Gyasi Zardes - Right Time, Right Place

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Gyasi Zardes was involved in two USMNT goals against Guatemala - not the prettiest goals, but goals nonetheless.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Gyasi Zardes had two accidental assists tonight for the USMNT, but since those assists helped the team avoid bouncing out of qualification in the ugliest manner possible, I'm sure he won't mind that they weren't things of beauty.

Yes, he had the touch of a rock.  A large rock with jagged edges and no graceful lines.  Blunt is the operative word.  However, he also made the runs that were necessary to generate the assists.  That's the beauty of Gyasi Zardes.  His brain seems to work on a more efficient and analytical basis than his feet do.  He had heavy touches tonight, a couple of which granted the ball to Guatemala in dangerous locations.  But he also had good movement, something that the US team has been sorely missing for months - and was sorely missing last week in one of the flattest performances I've ever seen them play.

Gyasi's benefits at this point are well known:  his work-rate, his ability to combine (yes, he has it, and you saw it tonight), and he occasionally makes very good runs.  The last benefit is likely the result of the combination play and tutelage he saw with Landon Donovan, and still sees with Robbie Keane.

So I'll take his touch of a rock any day if he manages to make those runs and generate those ugly assists.  Because there are no style points in soccer, and it's the final goal that counts.  Doesn't manner how beautiful it was going in.

Not a fantastic game for Gyasi in total - his passing game wasn't the best in terms of accuracy, he generated a few turnovers, his crossing game needed work, and he could have been better on the ball.  But he was involved in the attack, and he has a role to play in World Cup qualifying for the US.

Don't count him out with the USMNT just yet.  Ethan Finlay looks to be chomping at his heels though, and Graham Zusi looks to be back in the fold, so Zardes will have to gain confidence as he rides out the season in LA.